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Uses of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have different functions in the cell depending on their size and structure.

Monosaccharides are the main energy source for living organisms. Glucose is the most common energy source.

The breakdown of glucose (called respiration) provides energy for chemical reactions in the cell.

Polysaccharides are insoluble and fairly unreactive. This makes them ideal for structural support and energy storage:

  • Cellulose is formed from long straight chains of glucose molecules. These form tough fibres that are used to make plant cell walls.
  • Starch and glycogen are coiled glucose polymers. This shape packs a lot of glucose into a small space, for energy storage.
Rice plants store energy in the form of starch in their grains.
Rice plants store energy in the form of starch in their grains.